/ /

  • linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    The false security of a full schedule

    Booking strategies important to keep patients happy, ODs stress levels down


    The answer is the system

    Proper scheduling techniques depend heavily on the practice’s situation. The most important factor is that having an established system in place and adjusting it frequently based on your ever-changing circumstances. New practices with plenty of openings may be a perfect place for pre-appointments, but a “booked-out” practice trying to attract new patients should consider discontinuing their pre-appointments practice.

    Define the primary scheduling objective of your practice by deciding which is more important:

    • Availability for new patients within the next few days

    • Comfort of a full appointment book for the next few weeks

    Related: Getting your staff off to a great start

    Consider this strategy

    Commit to keeping your schedule 80 percent, instead of 100 percent, full. Full capacity is measured at 100 percent and anything over that causes stress and strain. Think about what happens to a balloon when it exceeds capacity. If you are booked at 100 percent and add an emergency appointment, it is difficult to perform at your best.

    Reserve the final 20 percent of your appointments for emergencies, urgencies, and new patients. This allows you to add patients who call and want to come in today or tomorrow without over-stressing the practice. The challenge comes when a loyal, long-time patient wants one of those final spots. The team needs to be reminded of the practice’s policy because loyal patients are more willing to wait.

    The strategy listed is not perfect for every practice, but it is a strategy with clear definitions, goals, targets, and room for flexibility. Every scheduling plan needs clear direction.


    1. Collier M, Bashman LM. Patient loyalty: It’s up for grabs. Accenture 2014 Consumer Health Study. 2016. Available at: https://www.accenture.com/t20160322T034105__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/Accenture/Conversion-Assets/DotCom/Documents/Global/PDF/Strategy_7/Accenture-Strategy-Patient-Engagement-Consumer-Loyalty.pdf. Accessed 3/15/17.

    2. Berg B, Murr M, Chermak D, Woodall J, Pignone M, Sandler RS, Denton B. Estimating the cost of no-shows and evaluating the effects of mitigation strategies. Med Decis Making. 2013 Nov;33(8):976-985.

    Read more from Dr. Rothschild here

    Michael Rothschild, OD
    Dr. Rothschild is the Director of Practice Management at Revolution EHR.


    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • No comments available

    Optometry Times A/V